Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) will present Pop South Asia: Artistic Explorations in the Popular, one of the first major exhibitions to provide a substantial survey of modern and contemporary South Asian art that engages with popular culture. The exhibition will be on view at the Foundation from 2 September through 11 December 2022 before travelling to KNMA in 2023.
With over 100 works by artists from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the diaspora, Pop South Asia navigates multiple and diverse themes. The exhibition highlights artists who explore the aesthetics of print, cinematic and digital media, alongside those engaging with devotional practices, crafts and folk culture; it presents artists addressing modes of local capitalism, from large-scale industries to vernacular ‘bazaars’, as well as those commenting on identity, politics and borders.
Expanding the conventional canon of Pop Art, understood in the Western context primarily as art that addresses consumer culture and the media image, the exhibition foregrounds multiple layers and ideas embedded within the ‘popular’ in South Asia. Pop South Asia brings to light knowledge and research relevant not only to South Asia, but also to parallel regions across the world, equally shaped by forces of capitalism and media as they continue to modernise and urbanise.
The exhibition will include artworks by Abdul Halik Azeez, Ahmed Ali Manganhar, Anant Joshi, Anwar Saeed, Atul Dodiya, Ayesha Jatoi, Baseera Khan, Bharti Kher, Bhupen Khakhar, C. K. Rajan, Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Chila Kumari Burman, Chitra Ganesh, Dhali Al Mamoon, G. Ravinder Reddy, Hangama Amiri, Jeanno Gaussi, K. M. Madhusudhanan, K. G. Subramanyan, Lala Rukh, L. N. Tallur, Lubna Chowdhary, Maligawage Sarlis, Mehreen Murtaza, M. F. Husain, Mian Ijaz ul Hassan, Muvindu Binoy, Naiza Khan, Pushpamala N., Raja Ravi Varma, Ram Rahman, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Saba Khan, Samsul Alam Helal, Seema Nusrat, Seher Naveed, Seher Shah, Shishir Bhattacharjee, Sunil Gupta, Tejal Shah, Thukral & Tagra, Tsherin Sherpa and Vivan Sundaram.
The exhibition features works across a range of media, including Atul Dodiya’s painting Gabbar on Gamboge (1997), a homage to Bollywood cinema’s iconic villain, Gabbar Singh, from the 1975 blockbuster Sholay. Dodiya’s playfulness with visual narratives is expressed in the artwork’s pastiche of popular cultural references. Baseera Khan’s lantern-like Chandelier (2021) sculptures rotate and reflect light, referencing the joyous, cross-cultural associations evoked by disco balls. Each of the patterns, though, are specific to Khan’s family’s collection of Islamic Arab and South Asian textiles and embroidery designs.
Other highlights include Bhupen Khakhar’s Janata Watch Repairing (1972) and De-Luxe Tailors (1972), reminiscent of the ethos of shops and businesses across small-town South Asia and rendered in a style and iconography drawn from commercial painting techniques, and Hangama Amiri’s textile installation Bazaar (2020), in which the artist wove her childhood memories of Kabul’s bazaars and transformed them to offer viewers a sense of place and time, alongside an awareness of the politicised present.
Organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi, Pop South Asia is curated by Iftikhar Dadi, artist and John H. Burris Professor at Cornell University, and Roobina Karode, Director and Chief Curator of KNMA.
On 2 September, in conjunction with the exhibition’s opening in Sharjah, the Foundation will host curators Iftikhar Dadi and Roobina Karode and exhibition artists, for two discussions about the works and key themes, including questions of politics, public space and identity and their relation to the ‘popular’ in South Asian art. For more information and to register to attend, please visit sharjahart.org.
Visiting the exhibition
2 September – 11 December 2022
Venue: Gallery 1, 2, 3 and 6, Al Mureijah Art Spaces
Admission to exhibitions is free and bookings can be made at https://ticket.sharjahart.org/Home/
About Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) opened its doors to the public in January 2010. It is a pioneering private museum of Modern and Contemporary art in South Asia, with two branches in New Delhi and Noida. It is a not-for-profit institution that produces rigorous exhibitions, educational and public-focused programs and publications. Through its work, KNMA emphasises on archives, institutional collaborations and support-networks for artists and creative communities, while extending its reach to diverse audiences. The Museum houses a growing collection of more than 8,000 artworks from South Asia, with a focus on the historical trajectories of 20th century Indian art, alongside the experimental practices of young contemporaries. KNMA was established through the initiative of art collector and philanthropist Kiran Nadar and is supported by the Shiv Nadar Foundation.
About Sharjah Art Foundation
Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. The Foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The Foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.
Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the Foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art.
The Foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres. A growing collection reflects the Foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.
Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. Hoor Al Qasimi serves as President and Director. All exhibitions are free and open to the public.
Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. In 1998, it was named UNESCO's 'Arab Capital of Culture' and has been designated the UNESCO ‘World Book Capital’ for the year 2019.
Sharjah Art Foundation:
Alyazeyah Al Marri